A great day at WordCamp Raleigh

I usually enjoy small tech conferences, but I was still surprised at what a good experience I had at WordCamp Raleigh today. It started out on a great note when I checked in and learned that they had t-shirts in women’s sizes as well as the ubiquitous “unisex.” This really made me feel like I belonged, even though I only knew about a half-dozen people there.

Most of the sessions were either a little beyond my abilities or a little elementary for me, but I still got something out of every one. A few times I followed the unconference Rule of Two Feet and moved to a different session. I especially appreciated the speakers that shared URLs for their presentations at the start so that I could follow along easily from my tablet.

Here are some of the great talks I saw today:

  • After hearing about Angular so many times, I was excited to see Angling Angular presented by Will Haley. Not only was this really practical and informative, Will also ate his own dogfood by doing the presentation with a web app that he made with Angular. This was one of those talks that really stretched my knowledge, and was great for me as a front-end developer.
  • I’ll admit that I went to the session on SEO Strategy because there wasn’t anything else really catching my eye in that timeslot. But I actually found a few helpful tips and learned the rationales behind a lot of tactics that I already follow instinctively, like posting frequently, meaningfully linking within a site, and only using pay-per-click for short, time-sensitive campaigns. Most importantly, we learned to Keep Google Happy. ;-)
  • I’ve gotten to know Melissa Eggleston recently though the local Girl Develop It meetup. Her talk was filled with interesting facts and actionable lessons about how users really interact with websites. I highly recommend checking out What We Know About Website Users.
  • I almost missed Dee Teal’s incredibly useful talk on WordPress Site Maintenance due to the overly cute session title “Responsible [digital] Home Ownership.” She covered many areas of site security that are really important and so often overlooked.
  • Even better was “Using Data to Power the User Experience” (another poorly-titled session) which was full of smart strategy and practical ways to take advantage of the tracking that Google Analytics is already doing for free.
  • CMB2: The Metabox Strikes Back was all about a tool that I will probably never use, but gave me good context for working with WordPress hooks, and was peppered with enjoyable Star Wars references.
  • The talk on optimizing site perfomance was close to my heart and covered familiar ground, having struggled with a complex Drupal site on Acquia’s servers for years when I worked at HASTAC. However, the presentation was actually only about optimizing server performance, which is something I would rather leave up to the sysadmins, and didn’t have any WordPress-specific advice.
  • Finally, I attended a demonstration of Roots, which is like a theme framework on steroids. This was another tool that I can’t see using any time soon, but learning about how it works provided a lot of insight into advanced theming issues, in which I am certainly very interested.

I’m looking forward to returning to Raleigh tomorrow for another fun day of learning with and from my fellow geeks.

UPDATE: None of the presenters I saw on the second day had made their slides available online, but they claim they are coming soon to the Wordcamp site. 

Nonviolence is still a radical notion

All of the comics in The Village Voice‘s “The 10 Most Subversive Comics at New York Comic Con” look great, but I most appreciated the shout out to John Lewis’ new book March (which I just read) as well as the Fellowship of Reconciliation‘s 1957 comic explaining nonviolent direct action. I originally discovered The Montgomery Story when I […]

After reading this article at Bustle by a woman who struggled to go a whole week without apologizing, I’ve decided to try it myself. Today when there was a misunderstanding over e-mail, it took me some time to figure out how to respond without apologizing because I did feel I was at fault.

Finally I came up with “I should have made that clearer.” It felt great!

Local officials need to respond to state politics

A recent column by Kirk Ross in the Chapel Hill News makes very clear how increasingly relevant the N.C. General Assembly’s shenanigans are to us here at the local level. In the past, many have debated the utility of municipal and county governments weighing in with symbolic resoluitions about state and national issues. Well pardon my French, but sh*t just gotreal in Raleigh this summer.

Kirk calls on candidates to make clear what they would do to deal with many draconian budget cuts that will be painfully trickling down to us in months and years to come. This also points to why we need local officials to stand up and lead by fighting back against Art Pope, ALEC, and the other forces that want to drag down our entire state. I may be biased, but my friends the five Orange County elected officals that got arrested at Moral Monday are a great example of this. If you didn’t see it, please watch this video (embedded below) of Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton clearly explaining his constutional rights while being arested by the Capitol Police.

Yahoo is the weakest link – but still strong enough!

Last night, someone (probably Isolate, the same loser who did it last time) tried to hack into my online identity. Last night I received an unsolicited password reset e-mail from Twitter. I ignored it but kept a watchful eye. A few moments later I got a slew of messages from Yahoo. 7:32pm: Password reset requested. […]